Beyond Vision

Senator Baldwin Letter

Beyond Vision Team,

We need your help with some advocacy and letter writing!

As many of you know, Beyond Vision is an active member of the National Association for the Employment for People who are Blind (NAEPB)  This organization works on a national level on issues impacting employment for people who are blind or visually impaired.  This includes advocacy and public policy issues.  While we work closely with the National Industries for the Blind (NIB), NAEPB is a separate organization.

In 2016, the Department of Education released final regulations on WIOA.  This includes language relating to organizations that hold contracts through the federal AbilityOne program, like Beyond Vision and IBVI.  The final rule is confusing and has created inconsistencies and challenges working with the VR system across the country.  We have had challenges in Wisconsin, as well.  NAEPB has been working with the Department of Education and Congress to clarify this language.  And that work still continues.

In the meantime, NAEPB and our D.C. consulting firm, Thorn Run, have been working on legislative language that would enhance  awareness among VR consumers about employment opportunities with organizations that hold AbilityOne contracts.   The language would amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  This language is as follows:

“The State plan shall also include assurance that the designated State agency will provide to individuals full and complete informed choice options regarding all workforce and development opportunities, including information regarding opportunities with employers participating in the AbilityOne program and opportunities to pursue uncompensated outcomes.”

The purpose of this language is to ensure that consumers are aware that employment with AbilityOne agencies is an option.   We know that many of our employees who are blind or visually impaired initially worked with DVR.  And we know that many of our employees could not find a job until they found Beyond Vision.  This legislative language would require DVR counselors to inform people who are blind or visually impaired looking for a job about organizations like Beyond Vision.

This language is gaining interest in Congress in both parties.  NAEBP and Thorn Run have identified Senator Tammy Baldwin as a person we would like to champion this language.  We have had some conversations with her staff and there is interest in helping us.  Beyond Vision has been asked to lead the advocacy efforts in Wisconsin .

This is where we can step up and help!

Attached you will find the draft legislative language, a short background piece, and a template letter for Senator Baldwin.   This letter was written by Mary LaPointe.

Would you be willing to write a letter about this issue to Senator Baldwin?

For employees that have worked with DVR, you could include language focused on:

  • When you first started looking for work, you worked with DVR and could not find a job.
  • You eventually learned about Beyond Vision and have found a great place to work.
  • You wish you would have known that Beyond Vision was an option when working with DVR.

For other employees, a letter of general support of the language change and the AbilityOne program would be appreciated, too.

Employees in need of assistance in writing their letter can work with Stacy Fuehrer.  We would like these letters completed and turn in to me by Wednesday, March 16 end of business day.

In addition to our letters, we are asking other blindness organizations in Wisconsin to write letters, as well.  Also, we have been working for some time to get Senator Baldwin to visit Beyond Vision.  We are ratcheting up those efforts.

Our partner agencies throughout the AbilityOne Program are looking to Beyond Vision to help get Senator Baldwin on board.  Let’s do this!

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Take care,

Rob

Mary Letter to Sen. Baldwin

One-Pager – VR Referrals to A1 Agencies

NAEPB Proposed Rehabilitation Amendment

Posted March 14, 2022

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